Judge denies delay in trial for man charged in Sierra LaMar’s disappearance

SAN JOSE (BCN) — A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge denied a request Monday to delay the trial of a man facing charges in the disappearance of a 15-year-old girl outside Morgan Hill more than four years ago.

Attorneys for 25-year-old Antolin Garcia-Torres, who’s charged with the kidnapping and murder of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar, had requested his trial be delayed to Oct. 10.

Superior Court Judge Vanessa Zecher denied the defense’s motion to postpone the trial during a hearing at the Hall of Justice in San Jose Monday morning.

The request wasn’t granted based on the length of the time the case has been pending and that there are three attorneys representing Garcia-Torres who are capable of working out any issues in preparation for the trial.

Zecher tentatively scheduled certain motions, which include a request for a change of venue, to be filed or heard by the end of the month and jury selection to begin the week of Sept. 19.

There will be breaks in the trial on the weeks of Nov. 21 and Dec. 19 for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, respectively, the judge said.

Sierra was last seen on March 16, 2012, leaving her home in unincorporated Morgan Hill and wasn’t on her bus for school.

Her body hasn’t been recovered, but investigators found her cellphone and Juicy-brand purse with her clothes folded inside days after she went missing miles away from her home.

Garcia-Torres was arrested in connection with Sierra’s disappearance about two months later when investigators found her DNA in his red Volkswagen Jetta.

One of the defense attorneys for Garcia-Torres is Alphonso Lopez, who said he will be more focused on Garcia-Torres’ case once he takes a two-week vacation after a jury reaches a verdict in another trial he’s been working on.

The defendant wants his trial to move forward, but also agreed to the delay, Lopez said.

Defense attorney Brian Matthews added that there is a large amount of “dense material” to review that include transcripts and thousands of documents.

There have also been CDs he’s received from prosecutors that don’t work, Matthews said.

Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney David Boyd said Sierra’s cellphone was sent to its manufacturer in South Korea for analysis last month and attorneys for both sides still need to review the report that recently returned.

In a brief address to the court Monday morning, Sierra’s father Steve LaMar said his family has been patient with the slow progression of the case and requested the trial move forward as soon as possible.

Steve LaMar was with a group of nearly a dozen people, including Sierra’s mother, aunts, uncles and supporters in the courtroom. Many of them wore pins with the 15-year-old girl’s picture.

After Monday’s hearing, Steve LaMar said he wasn’t completely satisfied with the tentative jury selection date, but was glad to be at Monday’s hearing and see the case slowly proceeding.

“We want answers. We’ve wanted answers since 2012,” Steve LaMar said.

The attorneys were scheduled to return to court Monday afternoon for a hearing on a motion to suppress evidence.

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